Drew Barrymore, the host of the daytime talk show “The Drew Barrymore Show”, has been criticized by many fellow actors and writers for her decision to return to work amid the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Barrymore posted an emotional apology video on her Instagram account on Friday morning, but later deleted it after receiving more negative reactions.
Barrymore’s Apology Video
In the video, Barrymore said that she was “deeply sorry” to the writers and unions, and that she wanted to “own” her choice to resume her show. She said that there were “many reasons” why this was a complex situation, and that she was not trying to “upset or hurt anyone”. She also said that her show was “bigger than just me” and that there were “other people’s jobs on the line”.
Barrymore claimed that her show was not breaking any rules and that it was in compliance with not discussing or promoting any film or television projects that were affected by the strikes. She said that she did not expect this kind of attention, and that she hoped that people would understand her intentions.
Actors and Writers Respond
However, many actors and writers did not accept Barrymore’s apology, and accused her of undermining the union solidarity and the bargaining power of the striking workers. Some of the celebrities who expressed their disappointment and anger at Barrymore’s decision were Alyssa Milano, Bradley Whitford, Debra Messing, David Krumholtz, and Patton Oswalt.
Milano told the AP that she loved Barrymore very much, but that this was not the right move. She said that it impacted the strength of the movement, and that it was “not a great move”. Whitford, who has been a frequent picketer, tweeted sarcastically that Barrymore wanted people to know that she was the victim, and that this was a tough week for her. He added that undermining union solidarity at the most crucial moment in Hollywood labor history was not a good idea.
Messing and Krumholtz commented on Barrymore’s Instagram post before it was taken down. Messing urged Barrymore to reconsider her decision, and to pay her employees like other talk show hosts who have stood in solidarity with the writers. She said that there were thousands of union members’ jobs and livelihoods at stake, and the future of the industry. Krumholtz said that Barrymore could have shut down her show and been forgiven, but instead she chose to hurt the efforts of thousands of people who were trying to achieve a fair deal.
Oswalt also tweeted a sarcastic remark, saying that he was glad that Barrymore was back on air, because he needed to know what she thought about the new Spider-Man movie. He added a hashtag #SolidarityForever.
The Strikes and Their Demands
The WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes began on September 12, 2023, after months of failed negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The main issues that the unions are fighting for are fair compensation, residuals, health care, diversity, inclusion, and safety.
The WGA is seeking a new contract that would increase the minimum pay for writers, especially for those working on streaming platforms. The union is also demanding more residuals for reuse of their work on digital platforms, as well as better protections for writers’ creative rights.
SAG-AFTRA is seeking a new contract that would improve the working conditions and compensation for actors, especially for those working on streaming platforms. The union is also demanding more residuals for reuse of their work on digital platforms, as well as better health care benefits and safety protocols.
The AMPTP has argued that the unions’ demands are unreasonable and unrealistic, given the changing landscape of the entertainment industry. The AMPTP has also accused the unions of engaging in a coordinated campaign to disrupt production and harm the industry.
Other Talk Shows Follow Suit
Barrymore was not the only talk show host who decided to return to work amid the strikes. The Jennifer Hudson Show and The Talk also announced their returns on September 18. However, they did not receive as much backlash as Barrymore did, perhaps because they did not issue any public statements about their decisions.
Other talk show hosts who have chosen to stand with the striking workers include Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Samantha Bee, Hasan Minhaj, Lilly Singh, Chelsea Handler, and RuPaul.